Mom puts fright into Halloween night

Halloween has always been a big deal in our house.
Halloween has always been a big deal in our house. We decorate indoors and out and then spend Oct. 31 trying our best to scare the heck out of all the trick or treaters. We have gravestones and goblins and caldrons with flames on the lawn. We have skeletons and witches in the trees. And we have Harry.

Now normally, my husband is a not-so-mild-mannered engineer. But on Halloween, he becomes a not-so-mild-mannered creature capable of scaring off children with a single “boo!”

We start with the walkway of terror. Our ordinary cement path is transformed into a pumpkin-lined graveyard. A bat flies overhead. Scary music and a voice saying “go back, go back” fills the air. After the kids step over the bloody footprints and finally get to the black-lit porch, they find a dummy in a robe with a rattlesnake head. A bowl of candy is near the dummy’s gloved hand. And the children are so happy. Can you imagine, an entire bowl of yummy chocolate, unprotected by any adult? They reach into the skull shaped bowl …

And then the dummy moves.

Now most children, no matter how old, run as fast as possible to the street – completely forgetting the tempting Hershey’s chocolate kisses in the unprotected bowl. This is great. Not only does Harry get his scare in for the year, I get all the leftover Halloween candy. So I’m certain to buy only the stuff I like. No icky lollipops or Bottle Caps for me. Since it’s all mine on November 1st, I buy my favorites – Nestles’ Crunch bars, Kit Kats, Tootsie rolls.

Of course, I do pay the price for allowing Harry to have his fun. I mean, it’s not easy digesting all that candy. And around Nov. 15, I need to buy a new wardrobe to fit the newly plus-sized me. But it’s worth it. I’d sacrifice any size jeans so that Harry can be happy. It’s not just about the chocolate.

Okay, it’s mainly about the chocolate.

Of course, this has a downside, other than having to shop in the plus-sized section until I eat enough carrot sticks and salad to return to my pre-Halloween size. No, the real downside is that for some reason, Junior always forgets his father is a dummy.

And that means that poor Junior, exhausted from trudging through about twenty cul de sacs in search of candy and coming down from the sugar high that started when he ate several bags of M&M’s to make room in his sack for more sweets, strolls up the walkway, not even glancing at the ghosts and flames and whatnot. He walks past the dummy, opens the door and screams bloody murder when Harry casually says “hi, Junior.”

Now you would think that Junior, after several Halloweens with a scary daddy-dummy would remember that the guy on the porch is daddy, not just some stuffed guy we made in the backyard that afternoon.

Not a chance. Junior, who has never forgotten Halloween three years ago when I made him wear a dorky Goofy costume that he hated, cannot remember that the masked man on the porch is his father.

So each Halloween night, before we leave to beg for candy, I remind Junior that his daddy is a dummy. We show him the mask – heck, Harry even lets Junior hide in the bushes for a few minutes while Harry scares a few trick or treaters. So you would think Junior would remember. But he doesn’t.

Now maybe it’s the candy. Sugar highs can be dangerous. Or maybe he’s just tired from walking for blocks. Or maybe he’s overwhelmed from having the stuffing scared out of him by all the other daddy-dummies in the neighborhood. Whatever it is, he always screams like a banshee before running in the house.

I know what you’re thinking. Maybe Harry should stop scaring the kids and I should stop decorating with tombstones. But Junior won’t let us. He really likes Halloween and all that goes with it. And about two minutes after he runs into the house, he runs back out. In his own mask. Fully prepared to stand absolutely still in the black-lit porch, waiting to scare the kids who are still out trick or treating.

My own little dummy in training. He makes a Halloween-loving mom proud.

Laurie Sontag is a Gilroy stay at home mom who wishes parenthood had come with a how-to guide. She can be reached at [email protected]